indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Bush calls for new judge in Cobell v. Norton case
Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Bush administration stepped up its campaign against the federal judge overseeing the Indian trust fund, asking an appeals court on Monday to assign a new judge to the case.

In a 23-page motion, government attorneys repeated a host of familiar charges against U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth. They accused him of overstepping his bounds and being too harsh on the government.

Pointing to a July 12 ruling in the Cobell v. Norton case, the administration called on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to intervene. They said Lamberth went too far in comparing the genocide of Native people to the mishandling of the trust fund.

"The district court's sweeping, unqualified, and wholly disproportionate denunciations of the Department of the Interior and the Department of Justice create at least an appearance that the court will be unable to evaluate discrete undertakings by Interior -- or discrete submissions by Justice - fairly, dispassionately, and on their individual merit," Peter D. Kiesler, an assistant attorney general and Bush appointee, wrote in the brief. "Reassignment is therefore warranted."

The move is the latest in the administration's long-running attempt to take Lamberth out of the picture. Since taking over in 2001, attorneys for Interior Secretary Gale Norton have challenged every single decision the judge has made, going so far as to ask the D.C. Circuit to end the case altogether.

The administration also mounted a disqualification campaign against a special master and a court monitor who were extremely critical of the government in their reports. Both officials were forced to resign from the case under extreme pressure.

Separately, a group of past and present government officials and attorneys tried to stop Lamberth from moving forward with contempt proceedings. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to get involved and now the Department of Justice has taken up the cause.

But the judge is not the issue, according to attorneys for the Cobell plaintiffs. Dennis Gingold pointed out that Lamberth was a conservative Republican nominee of the late president Ronald Reagan.

"The government's problem is the district court making them account for 100 plus years of bad facts, its pattern of unethical behavior, and its persistent strategy of diversion, delay, and obstruction -- of which this is only the most recent example," he said yesterday.

The motion was filed as part of the government's appeal of a July 12 decision that requires the Interior Department to tell Indian beneficiaries of problems with the trust. The ruling was called unprecedented by both the Cobell plaintiffs and the Bush administration.

"For the first time in the history of this case, the majority of Indian beneficiaries will be aware of the lawsuit, the plaintiffs' efforts, and the danger involved in placing any further confidence in the Department of the Interior," Lamberth wrote.

The appeal is the third case currently before the D.C. Circuit. On September 16, the court will hear the administration's challenge to a broad historical accounting and structural injunction imposed by Lamberth. On October 14, the court takes on the contempt proceeding -- a fallout of the special master disqualification campaign.

Since 2001, the appeals court has struck down three of Lamberth's decisions at the administration's request. All three times, Bush officials claimed victory, although the victories appear to have been short lived and are still in dispute.

In one instance, the D.C. Circuit lifted an order that would have required Interior to shut down its computer systems. At the same time, the court for the first time held that the Interior Secretary has a fiduciary responsibility to protect Indian trust data.

The decision led to a 61-day evidentiary hearing into the state of information technology at the department. During this time, the Bureau of Land Management was forced to cut its Internet connection and embarrassing information was repeatedly aired during the trial.

In the two other instances, the D.C. Circuit stopped the government from complying with a historical accounting and lifted contempt sanctions against Norton and former Indian affairs assistant secretary Neal McCaleb. Both times, however, the court refused to limit Lamberth's jurisdiction and left his findings against Interior undisturbed.

Department of Justice Brief:
Cobell v. Norton (August 15, 2005)

Lamberth Decision:
Cobell v. Norton (July 12, 2005)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice - http://www.usdoj.gov/civil/cases/cobell/index.htm

Related Stories:
Cobell Letter: Ross Swimmer can't tell the truth (08/08)
Resolution of Cobell v. Norton appears far away (08/05)
Editorial: McCain and Dorgan should fix trust bill (08/04)
BLM CIO threatened with demotion in Cobell case (08/02)
Indian Country, Interior far apart on trust bill (08/01)
Editorial: Settlement of trust fund case at hand (08/01)
Appeals court stays Lamberth order on notices (07/29)
Judge blasts Interior on handling of trust (7/13)
Elouise Cobell: Principles put trust back into trust fund (07/07)
Cobell and Cason to appear on C-SPAN program (7/6)
Cobell calls for settlement of trust fund lawsuit (7/5)
Editorial: Resolution of trust fund debacle needed (7/5)
Editorial: Abramoff scandal can't compare to trust (6/30)
Opinion: Downfall of Indians traced to Army, BIA (6/28)
Pombo supports settlement of Cobell trust fund case (6/27)
Harjo: Tribes lobby to fleece their own people (6/24)
Editorial: Congress should settle trust fund (6/24)
Editorial: Trust fund a 'national embarassment' (6/22)
Indian Country united on trust reform solutions (6/21)
Trust workgroup to outline Cobell settlement goals (6/17)
Echohawk optimistic on settlement of Cobell case (06/03)
Final trust reform meeting held in North Dakota (6/3)
UTTC hosts meeting on trust reform legislation (6/1)
House panel acts to restore Bush budget cuts (05/05)
NCAI and ITMA hold second trust reform meeting (05/04)
Bush administration won't give up fight on Cobell (03/18)
McCain weighs GAO probe of Indian trust debacle (03/10)
McCain lays out Indian agenda for 109th Congress (3/7)
Norton won't testify on trust fund retaliation (2/28)
Bush official won't accept claims of trust mismanagement (02/17)
Appeals court won't hold back Lamberth on trust reform (12/13)
Appeals court supports Lamberth's authority on IT (12/06)
Lamberth critical of Norton's 'bad faith' on trust fund (10/25)
Interior denies attempt to halt trust fund payments (10/05)
Bush administration challenges trust fund ruling (09/16)
Appeals court takes on Cobell trust fund case (9/15)
Lamberth exchanges harsh words with Cobell critic (08/02)
Bush administration calls for end to Cobell case (04/09)
Cobell trust fund suit mediators announced (4/6)
DOI's Internet connection shut down for third time (03/16)
Lamberth defends special master against attack (03/16)
Anderson praises Cobell suit in NCAI speech (2/25)
Tribes still frustrated on trust reform (11/20)
Bush officials blasted by tribal leaders (11/19)
Cobell plaintiffs disputing trust fund rider (11/17)
Daschle criticizes 'shameful' rider in DOI budget bill (11/04)
Norton welcomes time-out in Cobell trust fund case (11/4)
Bush official balks at large settlement for Cobell (7/10)

Copyright 2000-2005 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Violence against Native women is on the rise (10/24)
Morgan Howard: Corporate dividends confict with Tlingit values (10/24)
David Wilkins: Abandon the Doctrine of Discovery in Indian law (10/24)
Navajo Nation candidate Chris Deschene won't halt campaign (10/24)
Tribes receive $1.2M in Sovereignty in Indian Education funds (10/24)
Language preservation a top issue as AFN opens annual meet (10/24)
Rep. Don Young to speak to Alaska Natives amid controversy (10/24)
Think Progress: South Dakota county suppresses Native vote (10/24)
Opinion: Tribes turn their acumen to Internet lending industry (10/24)
Chickasaw Nation signs compact with state for license plates (10/24)
Federal judge won't be removed from Miccosukee Tribe's case (10/24)
Radio: NPS allowed destruction of tribal burial mounds in Iowa (10/24)
BIA announces intent to put Cowlitz Tribe gaming site in trust (10/24)
Feinstein opposes North Fork Rancheria off-reservation casino (10/24)
Salt River Tribe arrests man who left children in casino garage (10/24)
Closure of Chukchansi Tribe's casino could affect contributions (10/24)
Opinion: Shinnecock Nation's casino plans remain under cloud (10/24)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe heads to election season (10/23)
Al Caroll: Recognize tribal sovereignty in new US Constitution (10/23)
Michael Baines: Senate candidate battles Alaska Native rights (10/23)
President Barack Obama urges early voting for Alaska Natives (10/23)
Ho-Chunk Nation woman named president of Girl Scouts board (10/23)
3rd Circuit won't force town to repatriate Jim Thorpe's remains (10/23)
Navajo Nation's top court orders new ballots without candidate (10/23)
Alaska Federation of Natives ready to open annual convention (10/23)
Alaska governor to sign Native languages bill six months later (10/23)
Rep. Don Young blames government 'largesse' for suicide rate (10/23)
Washington player says tattoo represents Cherokee heritage (10/23)
Crow Tribe seeks renewal of Indian Coal Production Tax Credit (10/23)
Native advocates come together to combat domestic violence (10/23)
Agua Caliente Band and DOJ submit briefs in water rights case (10/23)
Former health executive from Chippewa Cree Tribe sentenced (10/23)
Final person sentenced in theft from Blackfeet Nation program (10/23)
Opinion: Tribes exploit loopholes in America's political system (10/23)
Otoe-Missouria Tribe announces plans for new gaming facility (10/23)
Rival leaders of Chukchansi Tribe to meet amid casino closure (10/23)
Navajo Nation challenges lawsuit over death of casino patron (10/23)
Law Article: Judge restricts BIA authority in Class III dispute (10/23)
Column: Election won't end North Fork off-reservation casino (10/23)
Eyapaha Today: Oneida singer follows in mother's footsteps (10/22)
Native Sun News: Candidate seeks investigation into program (10/22)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.